What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic Acid is a naturally occurring mucopolysaccharide that provides lubrication and cushioning to the movable parts of the body, such as joints, eyes, skin and muscles. It also acts as a nutrient distributor to areas that lack blood supply like cartilage and eyeballs.
Because Hyaluronic Acid is strongly hydrophilic (water-loving), it’s been dubbed “nature’s moisturizer”.
Chemically, it’s formed from a long chain of glucuronic acid and N acetyl glucosamine. It was first discovered at Columbia University, New York in 1934 by scientists Karl Meyer and John Palmer. Roosters combs contain HA and it is also made in a lab through fermentation .
‘Half life’ of hyaluronic acid
While Hyaluronic Acid is found in almost every cell, it does not stay in your cells permanently.
It has a ‘half life’ between 1-3 days. (Half life means your body breaks it down then excretes it). Bad news for skin after the age of 35.
This is why you need to keep topping up supplies, otherwise your skin dries out and start forming lines. If you have eye troubles like floaters or light flashes, you might need to top up your HA.
Hyaluronic Acid and your skin
Your skin is your largest organ. It contains 50% of your body’s Hyaluronic Acid supply.
Hyaluronic Acid and collagen maintain your skin’s structure. Loose either and your face starts sagging, wrinkling, not pleasant!
Collagen provides firmness but it is the Hyaluronic Acid that nourishes and hydrates the collagen.
Collagen is like a rubber band – stretch it a million times and eventually the rubber band dries out, loses its elasticity and will most likely break.
This is much the same way the collagen in our skin reacts. Hyaluronic Acid helps to prevent collagen from overstretching and drying out by continually bathing it in a nutritious, water based gelatinous fluid.
It provides continuous moisture to the skin by binding up to 1000 times its weight in water and literally acts like a sponge to help retain a supple, firm skin tone and youthful appearance.
It also serves as a wonderful medium through which nutrients and waste are transported to and from the cells of these structures. Young skin is smooth and highly elastic because it contains high concentrations of HA. But as we age, the skin loses its ability to maintain the same levels of HA, resulting in aging and wrinkles.
Hyaluronic Acid for acne
Here you can see an experiment I did on an acne spot from mask wearing. Normally I use rosehip and essential oils like helichrysum (what’s inside Empress Elixir), but this time I decided to try out Hyaluronic Acid gel serum . I soaked a piece of silk fabric in helichrysum hydrolat than spread it with hyaluronic acid serum. This I taped to my chin with Micropore tape. (You could use a wide plaster) .
As it was lockdown, nobody except my family saw my patched chin :-) Anyway I replenished the serum probably twice daily, and noticed the skin felt soothed.
I also had a burn on my finger from soapmaking and applied the same thing, HA serum inside a silk covering. Why silk? I’d read that silk protein was great for skin.. but who knows. You could probably get similiar effects with cotton or linen. My finger took longer to ehal, beacsue I sue my hadsn most fot eh day, the flexing and bending of the skin kept tearing teh skin. I think the silk covering acted like a splint, it kept the injured finger straighter, less flexible, while the skin was healing.
So you can see from the photos, it was an experiment that turned out well. Hyaluronic Acid does really help prevent scars. See the llist below:
Benefits to your skin
- Reduction in skin roughness
- Decreased Risk of Scarring and infection after surgery
- Increased Wound Healing when used as a hydro gel or medical dressing
- Stimulates production of TIMP-1 – which then protects collagen and elastin
- Decreased Wrinkle Depth as the lines are plumped up from below
- Increased Hydration so skin feels softer more plushy
- Increased Skin Barrier Defence from micro-organisms
- Increased Cellular Repair due to increased communication
- Increased penetration of active ingredients esp. hydrophilic.
Hyaluronic acid and rosacea
Losing Hyaluronic Acid means our skin starts to dry out. It becomes more sebnsitive to weather, stress, ingredients, pollution. The drie it gets the more sore and red it becdomes. And then the itching… Hyaluronic Acid is able to provide a cushion of moisture, that stops the dryness and itching. So don’t let your skin dry out. Keep your levels of hyaluronic acid topped up. See suggestions for a toner below.
And the other side effect of drier skin, are the fine lines and wrinkles. Hyaluronic Acid provides continuous moisture to the skin by binding up to 1000 times its weight in water. It literally acts like a sponge to help retain a supple, firm skin tone and youthful appearance.
It takes less than 24 hours for 50% of the Hyaluronic Acid your skin has produced to be destroyed, so this means that Hyaluronic Acid needs to be replenished daily in the skin
How to do this? Simply switch to a hyaluronic acid toner (eg Drench), to get a daily dose for your face. Follow with a hyaluronic acid-based face cream like Heart of Eternity that’s designed to replenish and protect skin that’s dry and sensitive.
And of course, skip those messy clay masks that often dry your skin out – instead use a hyaluronic acid mask that plumps up skin and leaves skin dewy soft. Do this at least twice a week, more often when weather is dry or windy.
Hyaluronic acid toner
Hyaluronic acid for lips
Your lips are made of muscles and skin tissue. The dermal layer contains Hyaluronic Acid and collagen. Because Hyaluronic Acid binds to water, it creates a jelly-like fluid that bathes and hydrates the muscle and collagen, keeping both nourished, hydrated and plumped. Because of the half life, you need to keep topping up Hyaluronic Acid to your lips. (Our Drench facial tonic and Super-hydrating Face mask contain HA)
Hyaluronic Acid for hair
Skin on the scalp is similar to that elsewhere. The difference is that the scalp area contains about 100,000 hair follicles which produce hair. Both hair and the hair follicle are a derivative of skin tissue.
The scalp has two layers- the outer layer (epidermis) which protects you like a shield. And the deeper layer (dermal)where the hair follicles produce your hair. Hyaluronic Acid in the dermal layer hydrate and feed your hair follicles with nutrients needed for healthy glossy hair.
Hyaluronic Acid and eye health
Did you know that most of the vitreous humour (fluid within the eye) is Hyaluronic Acid?
It acts like a shock absorber and transports nutrients to the eye. And after age 50, the loss of HA can result in various eye conditions such as floaters and light flashes..
Tips to boost your HA naturally –
Citrus fruits, tomatoes and bananas contain a substance called naringenin. Naringenin inhibits the breakdown of Hyaluronic Acid in the body.
Eat foods rich in the antioxidant lycopene to boost Hyaluronic Acid and collagen production
Look for foods rich lutein and zeaxanthin ( a yellow pigment ) that helps protect your eyes from UV B light. So marigolds, squash, asparagus, parsely, pistachios, carrots, peas, chard, spinach, egg yolks, kale, brussel sprouts. Lutein is protective against age spots (lipofuscin).
Bilberries protect against night blindness from their rhodopsin.
It’s an acid – so does it burn?
Ha!. Hyaluronic Acid has been misnamed. It is actually a salt (sodium hyaluronate ) with a neutral pH. It should never have been labelled as an acid, as a PH test shows it to be neutral, not acidic. Because of the amazing water retention capacity of Hyaluronic Acid, it is one of Nature’s natural moisturisers, so look for it in face and lip care products.
How does HA compare to Glucosamine or Chondroitin?
Glucosamine must combine with a glucoronic acid molecule to make Hyaluronic Acid. After this synovial fluid can be produced. But If your body isn’t able to join these two molecules together, it won’t be able to make its own Hyaluronic Acid supply, so consider taking a supplement. It’s a good supplement for everybody over the age of 50 – for hair, skin, eyes, joints.
When to supplement with Hyaluronic Acid
As we age, our skin loses its ability to maintain the same levels of Hyaluronic Acid as when we were younger.
Babies and young children have a high amount in their skin which is why it feels soooo soft! .
People over 40 notice drier skin, difficulty in their joints, eyesight changes.. all signs that Hyaluronic Acid consumption exceeds supply. Inflammation breaks down HA too.
Replenish it topically with a good skincare ritual, and take supplements for your joints and eyes.
At one time it was thought that stomach acid destroyed the HA molecule. More recent research has shown a large portion of the molecule goes undisturbed by the stomach acid and goes on to be absorbed in the small intestine.